Glimpse: World Kite Museum and Hall of Fame

  • Detail of a barrage kite, strung from ships by piano wire strong enough to shear the wings off enemy aircraft.

Kites capture the endless-summer feel of the beach, sun and wind, and in Long Beach, Washington, you can visit the World Kite Museum and Hall of Fame. Each August, they host Washington State International Kite Festival. The museum started with a donation of 700 Japanese, Chinese and Malaysian kites. The 300 Japanese kites are considered one of the most complete collections outside of Japan. In 2005, the museum moved from a house to the current building right off the beach. It now houses more than 1,500 kites from 26 countries. When we visited in October, we were fascinated by the exhibit on World War II kites. It included barrage kites, flown from piano wire above unarmed merchant vessels in the Atlantic. The 2,000-foot wires were strong enough to shear off the wings of enemy planes. The British added bombs that would go off on impact with aircraft. Other WWII kites collected meteorological data and housed radar, and carried messenger containers that could be snagged by airplanes, allowing the passing of maps, reports and other documents. And target kites were flown above ships for U.S. Navy gunners to practice their shooting. Here’s a glimpse.

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